In his column yesterday, Ken Davidoff gave his Baseball Person of the Year Award to Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce. That’s not what I disagree with. Despite a monumental mistake made by the latter, both of them showed a great deal of class and dignity moving forward. What I disagree with is what Davidoff suggests later:
Therefore, it’s not inconceivable that Soriano could wind up as the most expensive setup man in baseball history, if he finds a team willing to make such an investment.
The Yankees should consider it. If Andy Pettitte retires, they’ll have big money to spend, and they’ll be looking at a roster that will need an ultra-deep bullpen to support a thin rotation. With Soriano setting up Rivera, the Yankees could try to duplicate the 1996 season, when Rivera set up John Wetteland.
Now, to be fair, he does include a caveat: “At the moment, the Yankees don’t see themselves signing Soriano. Things can change, however.”
I’m hoping that things don’t change. I understand Davidoff’s argument that a deep bullpen can offset a mediocre rotation, but I don’t agree with or believe in it. The worse a rotation is, the less the bullpen matters. Just take the 2008 Yankees as an example of this. The bullpen was (somehow) very effective. But then let’s look at the rotation: Chien Ming Wang was injured from June on. Joba Chamberlain started the year in the bullpen (MISTAKE!) then also got hurt. Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson made 30 combined starts. Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes laid eggs the sizes of their prospect status (BIG) early on in the season.
The bullpen was most definitely solid, but with a floundering rotation and a “down” year from the offense (6th in OPS), that bullpen didn’t matter much. Soriano may be a good reliever with a solid track record, but he’ll most likely be quite expensive. He’ll also require a multi-year deal and the surrender of a first round draft pick.
Unless Soriano has a change of heart and decides that he only wants a one-year contract, the Yankees should continue to avoid him and save their money. That money could be better used to help land a starting pitcher in a trade during the season. Doing so would help the starting rotation much more than signing any reliever would.